Is there such a thing as an immortal human soul, immortal independent of God?
In a supposed interview, Pope Francis has supposedly said the following concerning hell:
Scalfari: What happens to that lost soul? Will it be punished? And
The response of Francis is distinct and clear (netta e chiara):
there is no punishment, but the destruction/annihilation of that soul.
[The Italian word is annullamento, literally, "turned into nothing",
meaning here the same as the more usual Italian word for annihilation,
All the others will participate in the beatitude of
living in the presence of the Father. The souls that are
destroyed/annihilated will not take part in that banquet; with the death
of the body their journey is finished. And this is the motivation of
the Church’s missionary activity: to save the lost. And it is also the
reason why Francis is a Jesuit to the end.”
Is what Pope Francis supposedly said heretical or not? Keep in mind that an interview with an atheist who then reports the interview from his memory is not a magisterial teaching. It is an opinion of Jorge Bergoglio as Jorge Bergoglio. Keep in mind that when Pope Benedict wrote his trilogy on Jesus he stated that theologians were free to critique and disagree with some aspects of his writings, but of course in an academic way. So popes can have opinions to which we may agree or disagree but we should be able to back up our negative critique with academic prudence.
I was taught, maybe heretically, I am not sure, that if God ceased even to think about us we would cease to exist. It is only through the power of God that we are. This seems to imply to me that we can be annihilated in body and soul!
But I was also taught that we are created with an immortal soul. Is that true? Or can God annihilate the immortal soul of a mortal being? Certainly this is true if God is all powerful, which of course He is!
Thus what wiggle room does Pope Francis and any Catholic have in describing what hell actually is? It seems to me that there are no dogmatic descriptions of hell that are considered infallibly defined. Correct me if I am wrong.
For example, I believe that the Church teaches about the existence of hell, but the Church has never taught infallibly that any human soul actually exists there, although this is true in the realm of the theoretical. The Church does teach that Satan and the other fallen angels dwell in hell. But they are angels not humans.
A Catholic certainly can embrace the theological construct that an immortal soul condemned by God to hell suffers punishment and it is tortuous and could involve flames. But a Catholic could also believe in the torture and flames in figurative way that the immortal soul in hell experiences an absence of God by choice just as the soul did in life. The torture and flames symbolize the eternal knowledge that one has freely chosen to cut oneself off from God and reaps the fruit of their misdeeds and mortal sins. The immortal soul actually exists in hell and has knowledge.
But if what Pope Francis believes as is reported by an atheist, that the immortal soul isn't immortal after all that God can annihilate the immortal soul and cause it to cease to exist, wouldn't this be hell too? The hell is that one is gone, completely, body and soul and has absolutely no existence of immortality even in hell, now for the soul and at the Final Judgement in the here after with their body raised from the clay of the earth.
Is it heretical to believe the soul can be annihilated by God and thus in the Final Judgement and the resurrection of the dead, only the dead bodies that have souls in heaven will be raised from the clay of the earth and fashioned after the Glorified Body of our Savior and joined to their immortal soul in heaven?